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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/40

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MASS


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MASS


\vo(xl cannot collect within it tlio whole energy of the sun, so also, and in a still ^"^ater detiree, is man in- capable of converting the boundless value of the im- petratory and expiatory sacrifice into an infinite effect for his soul. Wherefore, in practice, the inipetratory value of the s;icrifice is always as limited as is its pro- pitiatory and satisfactory value. The greater or less measure of the fruits derived will naturally depend very much on the personal efforts and worthiness, the devotion and fervour of those who celebrate or are

S resent at Mass. This limitation of the fruits of the lass must, however, not beniiseonstrued to mean that the presence of a large congregation causes a diminu- tion of the benefits derived from the Sacrifice by the individual, as if such lienefits were after some fashion divideil intosomany aliqiiot parts. NeithertheChurch nor the Christian people has any tolerance for the false principle: "The less the number of the faithful in the church, the richer the fruits". On the contrary, the Bride of Christ desires for every Mass a crowded church, being rightly convinced that from the unlim- ited treasvires of the Mass much more grace will result to the individual from a service participated in by a full congregation, than from one attended merely by a few of the faithful. This relative infinite value refers indeed only to the general frviit of the Mass (fructus generalix), and not to the special (fructus specialis) — two terms whose distinction will be more clearly char- acterized below. Here, however, we may remark that by the special fruit of the Mass is meant that for the application of which according to a special intention a priest may accept .a stipend.

The question now arises whether in this connexion the applicable value of the Mass is to be regarded as finite or infinite (or, more accurately, unlimited). This question is of importance in view of the practical consequences it involves. For, if we decide in favour of the unlimited value, a single Mass celebrated for a hundred persons or intentions is as efficacious as a hundred Masses celebrated for a single person or inten- tion. On the other hand, it is clear that, if we incline towards a finite value, the special fruit is divided pro rata among the hundred persons. In their quest for a solution of this question, two classes of theologians are distinguished according to their tendencies: the mi- nority (Gotti, Billuart, Antonio Bellarini, etc.) are in- clined to uphold the certainty or at least the probabil- ity of the former view, arguing that the infinite dignity of the High Priest Christ cannot be limited by the fi- nite sacrificial activity of his human representative. But, since the Church has entirely forbidden as a breach of strict justice that a priest should seek to ful- fil, by reading a single Mass, the obligations imposed by several stipends (see Denzinger, n. 1110), these theologians hasten to admit that their theory is not to be translated into practice, unless the priest applies as many individual Masses for all the intentions of the stipend-givers as he has received stipends. But inas- much as the Church has spoken of strict justice (justi- tia ommutat iv(i) , the overwhelming majority of theo- logians incline even theoretically to the conviction that the satisfactory — and, according to man}-, also the propitiatory and impetratory — value of a Mass for which a stipend has been taken, is so strictly circum- scrilx^d and limited from tin; outset, that it accrues pro rata (according to the greater or le.ss number of the living or the dca<l for whom the Mass is offered) to each of the individuals. Only on such a hypothesis is the custom prevailing among the faithful of having .sev- eral Ma.sses celeljratcd for the deceased or for their in- tentions intelligible. Only on such a hypothesis can one explain the widely estalilished "Mass Associa- tion", a pioils union whose members voluntarily bind them.selves to n'ad or get read at least one Mass .annu- ally for the poor souls in purgatory. As early as the eighth century we find in Germany a so-called " Toten- bund" (.see Pertz, "Monum. Germania; hist.: Leg.",


II, i, 221). But [irobably the greatest of such Socie- ties is the Mesxhund of Ingolstadt, founded in 1724; it was raised to a confraternity (Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception) on 'i Feb., 1S74, and at pres- ent counts ()8(),()1K) members (cf. Beringer, "Die Ab- liisse, ihr Wesen u. ihr (iebrauch", 13th ed., Pader- born, 19()(), j))). (>1() S(i(i.). Tournely (De Euch. q. viii, a. 6) has also sought in favour of this view impor- tant internal grounds of prol)ability, for example by adverting to the visible course of Divine Providence: all natural and supernatural cfTccf s in general are seen to be slow and gradual, not sudden or desultory, wherefore it is also the most holy intention of God that man should, by his personal exertions, strive through the me(liuin of the greatest possilile number of Masses to participate in the fruits of the Sacrifice of the Cross.

(b) The Manner of Efficacy of the Mass. — In theo- logical phrase an effect "from the work of the action" (ex npere operato) signifies a grace conditioned exclu- sively by the objective bringing into activity of a cause of the supernatural order, in connexion with which the proper disposition of the subject comes subse- quently into account only as an indispensable ante- cedent condition (conditio sine qua non), but not as a real joint cause (concausa). Thus, for example, bap- tism by its mere ministration produces ex opere operato interior grace in each recipient of the sacrament who in his heart opposes no obstacle (obex) to the reception of the graces of baptism. On the other hand, all su- pernatural effects, which, presupposing the state of grace, are accomplished by the personal actions and exertions of the subject (e. g. everything obtained by simple prayer), are called effects "from the work of the agent" {ex opcre operanlis). We are now con- fronted with the difficult question: In what manner does the Eucharistic Sacrifice accomplish its effects and fruits? As the early scholastics gave scarcely any attention to this problem, we are indebted for almost all the light thrown upon it to the later schola.stics.

(i) It is first of all necessary to make clear that in every sacrifice of the Mass four distinct categories of persons really participate. At the head of all stands of course the High Priest, Christ Him.self ; to make the Sacrifice of the Cross fruitful for us and to secure its ap- plication. He offers Himself as a sacrifice, which is quite independent of the merits or demerits of the Church, the celebrant or the faithful present at the sacrifice, and is for these an opus operatum. Next after Christ and in the second place comes the Church as a juridical person, who, according to the express teaching of the Council of Trent (Sess. XXII, cap. i), has received from the hands of her Divine Founder the institution of the Mass and also the commission to or- dain constantly priests and to have celebrated by these the most venerable Sacrifice. This intermediate stage between Christ and the celebrant may be neither passed over nor eliminated, since a bad and immoral priest, as an ecclesiastical official, does not offer up his own sacrifice — which indeed could only be impure — but the immaculate Sacrifice of Christ and his spotless Bride, which can be .soiled by no wickedness of the celebrant. But to this special sacrificial activity of the Church. oiTering up the sacrifice together with Christ, must also correspond a special ecclesiastico- human merit as a fruit, which, although in itself an opus operantis of the Church, is yet entirely independ- ent of the worthiness of the celebrant and the faithful, and therefore constitutes for these an optis operatum. AVhen, however, as De bugo rightly points out, an ex- communicated or susiHiiiied priest celebrates in defi- ance of the prohibition of the Church, this ecclesiasti- cal merit is always lost, since such a priest no longer acts in the name and with the commission of the Church. His sacrifice is nevertheless valid, since, by virtue of his priestly ordination, he celebrates in the name of Christ, even though in opposition to His wishes, and, as the self-sacrifice of Christ, even such a